JERUSALEM, Dec. 5, 2016 – This year will mark a powerful shift in Jewish immigration to Israel, with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) nearly tripling its share of overall aliyah and becoming a dominant force for Jewish immigration to Israel from nine countries in 2016.
After only two full years of direct involvement in aliyah, The Fellowship is on track to bring more than 4,500 immigrants to Israel in 2016 from 24 countries where Jews are increasingly threatened by anti-Semitism, assimilation, economic hardship and conflict – about 18 percent of the nearly 24,000 Jews from around the world who will have made Israel their home this year (this does not include an additional 7,500 people who independently came to Israel in the past and decided to acquire citizenship in 2016).
The Fellowship’s aliyah totals in 2016 skyrocketed from the 1,660 Jews it brought to Israel in 2015, when 31,000 Jews in total immigrated to Israel, a six-year high. The Fellowship has been actively involved in aliyah for 20 years, contributing $188 million to aliyah efforts and bringing Jews to Israel from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, India, and other countries. In 2014, The Fellowship became directly involved in bringing and resettling olim, bringing to Israel 480 Jews, reflecting the stepped-up role of privately funded nonprofits in an area once dominated by the Jewish Agency.
In 2016 The Fellowship became a dominant force for aliyah in nine of the 24 countries in which it is active, bringing more Jews to Israel from those communities than any other organization. in 2016, The Fellowship brought more than 40 percent of the 7,600 total immigrants from those countries in which it is active, including:
- 62 percent from Belarus
- 64 percent from Latvia and Lithuania
- 58 percent from Moldova
- 87 percent from Spain
- 92 percent from Turkey
- 77 percent from Ukraine
- 80 percent from Uruguay
- 89 percent from Venezuela
The Fellowship also brought a growing share of immigrants from 15 other countries, including 27 percent of olim from one Arab country, which cannot be identified due to political sensitivities; 25 percent from the Czech Republic; 25 percent from Belgium and France; and 24 percent from Georgia.
It is Ukraine, with its ongoing civil strife, where The Fellowship is contending with its most precarious mission. Many of the more than 2,533 Ukraine Jews who will have made aliyah with The Fellowship to Israel this year were displaced from their homes, especially in eastern Ukraine, because of clashes between pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine troops. The Fellowship has also housed and cared for many of these Jews who were refugees from the violence before bringing them to Israel. The most recent flight of Ukraine olim on Nov. 29 included 273 people – the biggest single planeload of immigrants since The Fellowship began its aliyah activities.
The Fellowship also offers specialized services tailored to immigrants’ countries of origin, providing financial aid to Ukrainian olim escaping that the civil conflict, housing assistance to French Jews who’ve identified that need, and more.
“Thanks to our millions of Christian supporters in the U.S. and around the world, we are bringing more and more Jewish people home to Israel,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship’s founder and president. “In just three years, we have become the major aliyah force in many countries, and we are determined to continue rescuing Jews around the world in the months and years ahead.”
About The Fellowship:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces in helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide – and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Led by its founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $140 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.3 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Miami, Toronto, Seoul, and Sao Paulo. For more information, visit ifcj.org.